UK police officer admits killing woman abducted on walk home

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LONDON (AP) — A British police officer pleaded guilty Friday to murdering a 33-year-old woman Sarah Everard, who was abducted as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London.

Wayne Couzens previously admitted kidnapping and raping Sarah Everard, a marketing executive who went missing on March 3. Couzens entered a guilty plea to murder during a hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court, appearing by video link from Belmarsh high-security prison.

A major police investigation was launched after Everhard's disappearance. Her body was found a week later in woodland more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of London.

The search for Everard and news of her killing caused a nationwide outcry, with women sharing experiences of being threatened, attacked or simply facing the everyday fear of violence when walking alone. 

Police in the U.K. capital came in for criticism after some women attending a vigil for Everard were detained for breaching coronavirus restrictions. 

Couzens, 48, joined London’s Metropolitan Police in 2018 and had most recently served in the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command, an armed unit responsible for guarding embassies in the capital and Parliament. 

The police force has expressed shock and horror at his crime, but faces an investigation by the policing watchdog over how it handled an allegation of indecent exposure against Couzens days before Everard was abducted.